After winning an affordable housing vote and losing narrowly to become the vice-chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioner, Jessica Holmes - the youngest person to ever serve on the board, and the board's only woman - abruptly resigned Monday night, leaving commissioners in shock.
Holmes, who clashed with other board members at the last meeting over the timing of the vote, said she had other business at the end of the meeting, and then it took a turn.
"I’d like to take this time to say that serving Wake County has been one of the best experiences of my life and I’m humbled to have had the opportunity. I feel like at this point I have a record that I am very proud of," she said. "I’ve been very proud to advocate for education and for child hunger, and to breathe life into the affordable housing conversation."
"Not all of my goals have been accomplished but I do feel that I would be leaving the board in excellent hands," she continued. "So I therefore resign my position as Wake County Commissioner, and I will work with staff and my party to ensure a smooth transition and to make sure the goals I have will continue to move forward, as I’m sure they will be with the members of this board… I’m really excited about watching [the affordable housing] effort move forward."
The affordable housing vote —appointing members to a steering committee Holmes was supposed to chair— which had been delayed two weeks, but passed unanimously. Earlier in the meeting, Holmes lost a vote to become vice-chair to fellow member Matt Calabria, 4-3, with Ford and Portman voting for her.
Holmes couldn't be reached for comment Monday night. Her fellow members told the INDY
they had no idea this was coming. (For the record, we didn't either; an extensive interview with Holmes last week about affordable housing provided no hints that this was even a possibility.)
"All of us are shocked by Jessica’s announcement tonight and I don’t know if anyone saw it coming," Calabria said. "She was and is a huge asset to the county and really led the charge on the affordable housing effort."
"Both of us were interested in the position but our relationship has been very good. We’ve always been friends and the first thing we did was hug each other, and we talked about working together in the future, even this week," Calabria said when asked if he thought the vice-chair vote had anything to do with it. "This is really a shock to everybody. People run for positions, that sort of thing happens all the time, but resignations are on a different order of magnitude."
Former special counsel to the General Assembly Gerry Cohen notes that Holmes can rescind her resignation until Hutchinson formally accepts it:
If the resignation is accepted, the Wake County Democratic Party will nominate Holmes' replacement. Her term expires in December 2018.
Burns, who clashed with Holmes over the November 21 vote, said he hopes Holmes resigned to take a better opportunity. "
It was a surprise for all of us," he told the INDY. "
Nobody in the whole room knew that was coming...it’s been a pleasure to work with her for two years. She’s been dynamic."
"I regret that Jessica chose to resign," he added in a statement posted on Facebook
. "I hope that her resignation is the sign of a new opportunity for her, and not because of losing this vote. That would be regrettable, as she is an exceptionally talented person with a very bright future, and has done superb work on the Wake County Commission."